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Israeli Officials And American Conservatives Claim ‘There Is No Humanitarian Crisis In Gaza’

By Ben Armbruster on June 1, 2010 at 12:32 pm

"Israeli Officials And American Conservatives Claim ‘There Is No Humanitarian Crisis In Gaza’"

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On Sunday, Israeli forces raided an aid flotilla trying to break a blockade of Gaza to deliver much-needed humanitarian supplies, killing nine activists, including four Turkish citizens. The incident has received “widespread condemnation” from the international community. Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan called the raid a “bloody massacre by Israel.”

In a damage control effort, Israeli officials and their right-wing American supporters are now trying to deflect blame onto the activists, saying that there was no reason for them to be trying to breach the blockade to deliver supplies because there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza:

ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN: “There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. … The flotilla is an attempt at violent propaganda against Israel, and Israel will not allow the violation of its sovereignty at sea, in the air, or on land.”

MICHAEL OREN, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: “Over one hundred trucks, every day, laden with food and medicine go into Gaza. There’s no shortage of food. There is no shortage of medicine.”

NEWT GINGRICH: “There was no humanitarian crisis; this was a deliberate political effort on the part of people who want to try to undermine the survival of Israel.”

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: “What exactly is the humanitarian crisis that the flotilla was actually addressing? There is none. No one is starving in Gaza.”

“They can get plenty of humanitarian aid in Gaza,” said the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol. “If they want more aid, airlift in five million tons of nice goods and the Israelis will just take a look and make sure they’re not arms.” Watch the video:

A U.N. fact-finding mission described the Israeli blockade, which Israel claims is aimed at Hamas, as “collective punishment.” A U.N. official said last week that the formal economy in Gaza has “collapsed,” and 60 percent of households there were short on food. The Guardian notes that according to UN statistics, “around 70% of Gazans live on less than $1 a day, 75% rely on food aid and 60% have no daily access to water.”

Amnesty International reported recently on the plight of Gazans as a result of the blockade:

The blockade [has] continued to cut off almost 1.5 million Palestinians from the rest of the world, isolating them in Gaza’s cramped confines, and greatly limiting the import of essential goods and supplies. This gratuitous exacerbation of the privations already suffered by the inhabitants of Gaza seriously hampered their access to health care and education and destroyed industries and livelihoods.

A U.N. spokesperson last year called Gaza “a prison.” “Eighty percent of Gaza’s population are refugees and non-refugees who rely on the UN aid,” he said, adding, “What is happening in Gaza now surpasses the capacities of any humanitarian organization.”

Update

Mark Regev, spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that “the whole idea that there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza is overstated.”

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